Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s stance yesterday when presenting the government’s positions on terrorism was decisive and explicit. We have no sign of understanding of and toleration for the terrorists. Our response is an absolute one. No compromise, no negotiation with them, he said, while adopting the West’s hardline position against the Taleban regime in Afghanistan: The crime that was committed cannot go unanswered. And every retaliation leads to more tension, Simitis asserted. And his answer to a question whether Greece will take part in a potential military operation by providing military bases and troops was equally clear: Greece will take part in all the initiatives that will be decided upon… This goes without saying. We are a member of the alliance and we must, as long as we believe in these values, contribute toward defending these values. Simitis’s attempt to distance himself from the skepticism and concerns of European leaders such as German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French President Jacques Chirac and French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is probably due to two Greek particularities. These are, first, the organization of the 2004 Olympic Games and, second, the activity of the November 17 terrorist organization. These two elements obviously limit Greece’s room to maneuver in the US-declared war on terrorism. Furthermore, as a principle, a country’s foreign policy is exercised on the grounds of safeguarding and promoting its national interest. Hence it would not be wise for small countries to insist on ideological prejudices and reactionary political notions. The need for realism in Greece’s foreign policy also emerges from the realization that the Balkan region seems to have – indirectly – experienced the consequences of the terrorist activity of Osama bin Laden’s mercenaries, who are said to have taken part in the bloody conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), fighting on the side of the KLA. It is normal, therefore, for the Greek government to oppose all types of terrorists. In this light, the clarification of the Greek position on the issue of international terrorism could and should also apply in view of the EU’s extraordinary summit in Brussels tomorrow, which will examine the requisite measures to be taken to counter this threat.

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